When a Rapist Teaches Character

Over the past year, my life has been undergone a radical shakeup. It started about a year ago when my dad came across Recovering Grace and discovered that Bill Gothard was sexually harassing young women. It continued through the winter as Recovering Grace shared the story that I had never heard (despite growing up in ATI, Bill Gothard’s homeschool program) of Bill’s lying, cheating, deception and sexual harassment and even molestation.

Next to my dad and my grandpa, Bill Gothard impacted my life, directly or indirectly, more than any other one man. Part of this comes from growing up in the homeschool community and all the Gothard doctrines such as courtship, modesty and “a higher standard than the world” that were integrated into the movement—at least my part of it. Discovering that he is not a Godly man, but a liar, deceiver, minister of Satan, sexual abuser and cult leader, has shaken my life to the core—because Gothard’s doctrines were at the core of my being.

In addition, I have good evidence that Gothard’s methods of teaching crippled my ability to think logically about life in general and make wise choices. This is ironic, because Billy’s system was supposed to help teach me wisdom. However, since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a man who does not have the fear of the Lord will definitely NOT have wisdom, nor will he help others have wisdom. Instead, Bill Gothard taught people to have a fear of disobeying Bill’s commands and a fear of the devil. As witness to the last phrase—Bill’s “umbrella of protection” doctrine said that stepping out from under authority exposed us to Satan’s attacks. Therefore, you need to obey your authorities, or Satan is going to get you. The truth is that disobeying your God-appointed authorities—unless they are telling you to disobey God—is ultimately disobedience to God, and will result in punishment from Him. (See Romans 13:1-7.)

At this point, I’m not going to get into the specifics of how Bill’s methods affected my thinking. However, I can definitely say that, since God has started working on my heart and life to cleanse me from Billy Gothard, things have been changing for the better. For example, at the age of 25, I finally realized, a few months ago, that it is okay for me to like a girl and talk about it. When I came to that realization, it was like a “Duh!” moment—and yet it was one of those core beliefs that messed up my life and crippled my ambition.

Which brings me to the latest three posts on Recovering Grace, detailing flaws in the treatment of women in Character Sketches. I grew up with these books. As a little boy, I must have spent hours reading the thrilling stories of a wolverine killing a grizzly bear, a mother wood duck pushing her babies out of the nest, and the coots sticking together to escape being killed by a hawk. I read the Bible stories as well, but I think I was more interested in the nature stories.

I do remember reading about Dinah and Tamar, but I had completely forgotten the sketch of Abigail. Reading about it on Recovering Grace (see parts One and Two) was shocking. The Bible presents Abigail’s intervention as saving the lives of not just Abigail’s husband, Nabal, but all the other men who worked for him. Gothard’s presentation of Abigail shows her as a woman who helped out in the short term, but had great consequences in the long term. He goes so far as to indicate that it would have been better for David to have killed all those men, because it might have helped him avoid killing Uriah (one man) later in life. Gothard, by this statement, implies that Abigail was responsible for David’s sin of murder.

But which Gothard? The story really gets disgusting when we realize that these accounts were written by none other than a serial rapist named Steve Gothard—Bill’s brother. It’s not surprising that Steve would try to pin the blame for rape on the victim. That was what he would have needed to do in his own mind to help justify his sin.

Lest we need more reasons to totally ditch Bill Gothard and seek to follow Christ alone, this adds even more icing to the cake. It confirms, once again, IBLP’s twisting of Scripture, lying, deception, and false teaching.

What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Years Ago…

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4 thoughts on “When a Rapist Teaches Character

  1. Thank you for your insightfulness and not letting it go and honesty in which you wrote this and others. ~Blessings to you as you continue to seek Him~!

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